"We're Not Going Back to School."
A devastating text that left me grieving my high school experience, like millions of other kids are right now.
"We're not going back to school."
When I looked at my phone, I was overwhelmed with text messages from my peers who had just learned that we weren't going back to school this year. Reading through the texts, I saw lots of different emotions. Some of my friends were devastated, unable to believe the news. Others were relieved, as they knew that they wouldn't be allowed to go back to the school during the pandemic anyway. And, some just didn't care. But, no matter what our feelings towards it were, everyone thought the same thing: This is crazy.
Almost a month ago, we got the news that school was closing. Our teachers rushed to prepare us, and themselves, for the transition to online school, and everyone was slightly in shock.
When the final bell rang on the last day of school, everyone rushed out of their classes, thrilled to have a long "break," even though we'd still have to go to online classes. People were emptying their lockers and filling their book bags to the brim, as we were told that we weren't allowed to leave anything at the school, and getting out of there as fast as they could.
I was one of the last people out of the school, as one of my friends wasn't at school that day and I needed to get her things as well, and walking down the empty halls with random pencils on the floor and a few kids packing up their final things was a sight that I'll never forget. When I went to drive away, I turned and saw ten or so kids standing on the curb, all of their binders, papers, and bags in their hands, and it really became real to me.
As I drove away, I convinced myself that we would just be back in a few weeks, and that we were just taking all of our things home just in case. But, that didn't happen. It was the last time we'd be at school that year.
High school is a different experience for every student, but, for me, I loved it. For my whole life, I looked forward to when I could finally go to high school. I imagined myself hanging out with my friends ever night, preparing for my future, and figuring out who I am. Even though I've ended up spending more time on homework than hanging out with my friends, I've truly enjoyed high school. And now, we're all losing a big part of it.
For most schools, prom has been canceled. Spring sports are off. There will be no graduation. Even though the schools shutting down isn't someone dying, it feels a lot like grief... because it is. We're all grieving.
Even if you haven't lost someone, it's okay to be grieving right now. I know that I am. I never realized how much I had been looking forward to making memories during the time we've all been stuck inside, and how excited I was for this summer, until I found out that school was canceled. It's okay to grieve this year of high school and all of the memories that won't be made.
But, don't think that this is it and that high school is over. We may not physically be in high school, but we mentally are, and we can't give up now. We can still have the greatest high school experience yet.
Go visit your friends at their houses, but stay on the street while they're on their front porch.
Group FaceTime with your usual lunch table every day at 12 and eat together.
If you can't participate in your usual spring sport, go outside and train every day. Just because you aren't with your team doesn't mean that you can't keep on improving. There's still next year, whether it's in high school or college.
Text your friends and check in on them daily.
Email your teachers and let them know how you're doing.
Even though we're quarantined, we can still find ways to make this experience amazing.
We may be done with high school for this year, but that doesn't mean that the memories are ending. Keep on living, just do it from 6 feet apart. And, remember that it's okay to be grieving high school right now. That's okay. All of us are slightly doing that right now, and it's normal.
We can all get through this together.
Natalie Adams is the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks.